SYDNEY (Reuters) - Sydney resident Dianne Regan has stockpiled enough food to last her household for eight weeks should the authorities impose a lockdown to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Her sense of urgency is even more pronounced because she lives with her 23-year-old daughter who has asthma and her 83-year-old mother.
“Things have just been escalating day by day by day,” Regan told Reuters at her home.
“I’ve started seeing the videos where people were being locked down. They couldn’t go out. I thought: I’m going to not wait.”
A growing number of Australians are stockpiling household goods, fearing the coronavirus outbreak will result in shortages.
“I started going out and slowly, slowly each week, adding extra things into my normal shopping, making lists of things, if we did have to go into lockdown, if we were put into quarantine, things we would need,” Regan said.
She says she has filled her pantry and a separate storage box in the living room.
Australia has had 140 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus, and three deaths - a fraction of those reported in Italy, for example - but shoppers around the country have stripped supermarket shelves of staples in a rush of panic buying.
The demand for toilet paper, in particular, sparked the trending hashtags #toiletpapergate and #toiletpapercrisis on Twitter. Baffled officials have called for calm.
Australia’s major grocers Woolworths Group and Coles have put limits on purchases some routine grocery items, putting pressure on the country’s supply chain.
“You don’t need to go crazy,” said Regan, who washes her hands frequently for 20 seconds, followed by a dousing of hand sanitizer.
“You don’t need to go and clean out the shelves. You need to sit down, make out some lists, plan things, talk to your family about hygiene and about how to protect yourself.”
Reporting by Jill Gralow; Writing by Byron Kaye; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky